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A Research Paper on Nationalism in Western Africa Essay Sample

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A Research Paper on Nationalism in Western Africa Essay Sample


     During the period which followed the Second World War, nationalistic sentiments gained a considerable amount of empathic following across the representative nations of West Africa. West Africa, as a region, has been colonized by many a world-power force throughout history. Post-colonialism ideologies have stemmed from the experiences that this region has generally collected from being subjugated by the following countries: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Portugal. This qualitative paper aims to provide a historical and documentary research inquiry about nationalism in Western Africa. This academic construct will also include analysis based on contemporary issues that pervade the subject of nationalism in this specific region of the African continent.

Body of the Paper

     This paper will adapt the timeless model of thesis-antithesis-synthesis, which of course, through Hegel, becomes a thesis- as we know it to be today. What follows is a representation of the organization of the study; as augmented into what it would assume in defined and significant segments.

  • What is nationalism?
  • A history of nationalism in Western Africa
  • Contemporary Issues for Nationalism in Western Africa
  • Recommendations for further Study

What is nationalism?

Towards the end of the twentieth century, the colonial power of European countries such as England and France over large parts of the world- drew to an end. The colonized, found their voices again and gained their independence. Human difference and the essence of unique communities [1] find a binding agentive force within the stronghold of nationalistic thought. Kinship amongst citizens of a particular nation defines what nationalism is, primarily. The ability of a nation to identify with itself is the key to achieving organization for communities which are greater in number than a mere tribe. When a unit of society can locate the existence of equality as being real, for both the governing elite and the elemental community of equals: then nationalism can be described as being present and functional. [2]

     The development of a nation cannot be isolated by a single equation. Describing what a nation is requires a review of historical contexts, a multicultural perspective, and a pluralistic methodology as applied unto a series of truths in order to create a whole. The nature of nationalism also varies, since there is a form of nationalism that is characterized by authoritarian tenets, and this is collective nationalism, while nationalism that is founded on liberal aesthetics is called individualistic nationalism.[3]  Ethnicity and civic rule also have their aspects of nationalism. Ethnic nationalism draws its meaning from genealogy, race, and ethnicity. Whereas Civic nationalism gives more attention to equal relationships between citizens as opposed to having to focus on equality between institutions of governance .

    Locating the presence of nationalism relies greatly on literacy reports and reports on innovations in the areas of communication, education, transportation, and industrialization.

A history of nationalism in Western Africa

Western Africa is comprised of 16 member countries of the Economic Community of West African States, and one island: the island of Saint Helena. The 16 member countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo . [4]

Categories of nationalism  by West African country [5]

Benin France Civic -Individualistic
Burkina United Kingdom & France Ethnic-Collectivist
Côte d’Ivoire Portugal & France Civic-Collectivist
Cape Verde Portugal Civic
The Gambia France & United Kingdom Ethnic-Individualistic
Ghana United Kingdom Ethnic-Individualistic
Guinea France Civic -Individualistic
Guinea-Bissau Portugal Civic-Collectivist
Liberia United States of America Ethnic-Individualistic
Mali France Civic-Collectivist

Categories of nationalism  by West African country

Mauritania France Ethnic
Nigeria United Kingdom Civic -Individualistic
Senegal France Civic -Individualistic
Sierra Leone United Kingdom Ethnic-Collectivist
Saint Helena United Kingdom Collectivist
Togo France Individualistic

Descriptive analysis of data table

Qualitative analysis of data table

     The civic-individualistic form of nationalism in Western Africa is the foremost paradigm which emerges from historical research. The nations of: Benin, Guinea, Nigeria, and Senegal, adhere to the liberal tradition of nationhood. The Gambia, Ghana and Liberia, on the other hand, focus on maintaining racial identity while following liberal judiciary philosophies. The aforementioned nations fall under the ethnic-individualistic category. The country of Côte d’Ivoire is a mixture of authoritarian government and democratic principle (civiccollectivist), as well as the countries of Guinea-Bissau and Mali.

Cape Verde is more inclined to upholding equality between governmental institutions (civic). Hence, the citizens of Cape Verde prefer to live abroad. [6]  Saint Helene is part of the United Kingdom parliamentary rule, and so it is collectivist, because in British parliament, citizens tend to obey the laws once they are passed by the sovereign elite, and nothing much can be done, as far as opposing the common direction of civil complacency is concerned. [7]

      Mauritania persists in making race and ethnicity, the prime movers of dynamic change when it comes to culture (ethnic). The nations which compound ethnic motivations with authoritarian rule (ethnic-collectivist) are Burkina and Sierra Leone. The nation of Togo is democratic and liberal in its sociological ways (individualistic).

Contemporary Issues for Nationalism in Western Africa

     Western Africa is a region divided by cultural diversity, and colonial influences vary in their characteristic qualities, from nation to nation- with the exception of Saint Helena. In efforts to gain their independence from their colonizers, the West African nations have struggled not to lose their individual voice as members of one of the most marginalized conglomerate of newly industrializing country (NIC) economies. [8] Yes, the plight of the West African region concerning the preservation of equality among sovereigns and citizens amidst the world view of cultural relativism [9] has been a struggle. When nations are led to believe that there are races more superior than others, there lies the root of ethnic factions and racial schism. [10] 

 New historicists proclaim that history is not meant to be subject to individual and collective prejudice. [11] The practical approach is to equate the liberation of man with the liberation of the mind. Contemporary issues for nationalism in Western Africa, stem from pluralistic ideologies pertaining to awareness via education, gender studies, and a culture of mediation. [12]

    There is a need to equate awareness with introspection, for nations should look within themselves in order to judge whether the country is at war with itself or if it is still divided by the remnants of their colonial past.

The meaning of sophistication lies in how much simplicity one can manage to utilize without revealing that he did not begin with a compound but rather, with only one element. The representative building block of complexity in matters of importance, aspects of scholarship that demand meticulous handling especially in the laborious processes of regression (for results consequently become the machinery for high development) is a single unit of intuition.

    A nationalist will always base his analysis on his own historical awareness. [13]  Those who focus on the importance of nationhood and equality will look at ambiguities first; try to understand the origin of these ambiguities, before finding solutions.

Presently, Western Africa continuously undergoes periods of unrest and dissatisfaction. Mediation and regional talks will necessarily act as channels by which cultural pasts can reconnect, converge, and unity of heritage may cease to be an elusive product.

Recommendations for further Study

      Having studied and presented a historical survey of the different nationalism categories that define the ethnicity and racial autonomy of Western Africa as a region, here are some recommendations for further studies.

  • What does continued marginalization amongst gender groups in racial bound institutions, imply about the future condition of world politics?
  • How does the ethnic position of Western Africa affect the global economy?
  • Is Western Africa a dichotomy or an enigma?
  • Will Sierra Leone act as a catalyst for change in the history of African Civilization?
  • Is nationalism a point for research, only if it is isolated within the context of history?

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